Gods and Empires
The Second Age
With the banishment of Azoth and his followers came the end of the First Age. Much destruction had been visited upon the land, and so began a time of rebuilding. While the Elder Gods returned to their domains and the Younger resumed their plots and quarrels, Aegwyn returned to her Garden, saddened by the destruction and loss of life, but determined to continue her work. Though she grew distant from her siblings, she came to be exceedingly fond of her niece Enowen, who became her constant companion. Together, they worked to spread Life to all corners of Faeregoth, and the Garden continued to grow and spread. As Aegwyn looked out upon the tangled wilds, she saw great beauty and promise but felt that something was lacking. Though she could conjure up servants to assist her with her work, they were merely extensions of her will and showed little creativity or imagination, unlike Enowen who worked tirelessly and constantly delighted her aunt with her subtlety of design and surprised her with her innovation. Aegwyn realized then that what the Garden needed was inhabitants capable of thinking for themselves, beings crafted in the likeness of the Gods themselves. Gathering her tools, Aegwyn knelt down beneath her mighty Tree and began sculpting all manner of clever and fanciful forms. When she finished, she breathed Life into each of them and gifted them with greater intelligence than any of her other creations. More importantly, she gifted them as well with the ability to determine their own path through life, and thus came into existence the Firstborn, those commonly known as the Fae. Aegwyn taught them to appreciate the beautiful things that she had wrought, and trained them to care for Nature and live in harmony with it, and so the Firstborn spread throughout the world to help Aegwyn nurture life in all of its forms. Amazed at what Aegwyn had done, Enowen set about doing the same and sculpted beings of great beauty and grace, those who we call the elves, and they lived with and served Enowen in the Garden for countless ages, for in those days it is said that they were immortal as well.
These works did not go unnoticed by the other Gods, both Elder and Younger, who also tried their hands at creating intelligent servants. It is said that only the most powerful gods were able to devise independent beings with free will. In these days many new races came into being, including the dwarves, lizardfolk, centaurs, the noble giants, merfolk and other aquatic races, but none of their creators possessed quite the gift that Aegwyn and Enowen shared, for all of these beings were alike in that they were mortal. As the stories go, the lifespan of these races was much longer than the lifespan of those living today, but ultimately they began to grow old and die, much like the plants and animals that flourished throughout the world. These younger races began to multiply and spread across Faeregoth, and though they generally heeded the wishes of their respective creators, they were not bound to the will of the Gods and often did as they wished. It became almost a sport among the Gods to lure away the followers of another with promises of wealth, power or favors, especially among those not powerful enough to create their own. As these mortals multiplied and spread across Faeregoth, the Gods found that they could draw power from these mortal followers, and gain more influence for themselves among the other Gods. Many of the Younger Gods began to associate themselves with the emotions and ideas that these mortals perpetuated, such as Truth and Deceit, Love and Hate, Courage and Fear. The nobler Gods sought to teach and guide the mortals, offering knowledge and protection in exchange for service and loyalty. The darker Gods sought to entice or enslave the mortal races. Many became twisted and corrupted by the influence of these dark Gods, and it is said that this is how the goblins, orcs, trolls and their kin came to be. This became the hallmark of the Second Age…the coexistence of the mortals and immortals in Faeregoth. Sadly, this was not a particularly peaceful time.
So successful were these new races, and so far did they spread, that Aegwyn feared they would overrun the delicate natural balance she had developed and eventually encroach upon her Garden itself. So once again, Aegwyn returned to her Tree and set to work, sculpting a creature far more powerful and fearsome than any other she had ever created. She breathed into them life and cunning and magic, and thus were born the dragons, most terrifying and powerful of the ancient creatures. The first and most powerful of the dragons were fiercely loyal to Aegwyn, and these she tasked with keeping watch on the borders of her Garden. Their offspring found their own way in the world, some becoming allies of the other Gods while many shunned the Gods altogether and began to prey upon the other intelligent races that dwelt within the world. Many of the Gods saw this as the natural order of things, for the strong to prey upon the weak, and so they contended for power and dominance over their kin. As these struggles for supremacy escalated, many factions and alliances were formed until at last it seemed as if all of Faeregoth was engulfed in war. This was a time of devastation and death, for mortals and Gods alike. Though the Gods be immortal, and exceedingly powerful, it is said that they can still perish, or even be stripped of their power, and so was the fate of many Gods during this age.
Eventually, there reached a point where Aegwyn and many of the more powerful Gods despaired that there would be anything left of Faeregoth should this great War continue. A Council was formed of the Elder, and the most powerful of the Younger Gods: Aegwyn, Lithos, Neira, Aeris and Pyros, along with Enowen, Othos, Ashara and Morgion. Morgion, second son of Pyros and Neira, had taken up the fallen mantle of his brother Azoth as God of Death and Darkness, and in this dark Age had become very powerful indeed. Nine in number, they managed to set aside their differences in order to work out an agreement. A lengthy debate ensued, continuing until it seemed that no solution could possibly save Faeregoth from destruction. At last, guided by Aegwyn, who decreed that Balance must henceforth be kept, the Council of the Elder Gods resolved to make two Edicts. The First Edict established a strict heirarchy based upon the allegiances between the Gods. All who submitted to this ruling and agreed to maintain the peace henceforth were pardon and granted a place of power amogst the new order. Those who did not were Banished to the Void, as Azoth had been. Those who resisted were slain, or captured and stripped of their powers. The Second Edict resolved to remove the Gods from the physical plane, no longer to reside upon Faeregoth among the mortals. Though they could still influence the mortal world, they agreed to no longer step foot upon Faeregoth and set about the task of building a new home for themselves on another plane of existence.
One by one, the Gods began to remove themselves and their servants from the physical world until at last Aegwyn stood alone beneath her Tree and wept. Though she, perhaps more so than any of her kin, understood why they needed to depart Faeregoth, still she was saddened and angry at the destruction that had befallen her world. As she stood in her Garden, staring at what remained and remembering what had been, her anger grew until it could no longer be contained, and in that moment, in a fit of rage, the mighty Goddess struck down her Tree, splitting it asunder and laying waste to the grove in which it stood. The inhabitants of the grove, both elven and Fae, fled from her in terror and scattered to the far corners of Faeregoth. In that moment, the stories say, their immortality was lost, never to be recovered. When at last her rage was spent, Aegwyn fell to the ground and continued weeping, grieving for what she had done in a moment of lost control. She consoled herself by shaping figures from the mud made where her tears hit the ground. She formed them much like the elves, whom she had loved, and the dwarves, whom she had admired. Their lives were short, but their potential unlimited. These, the Lastborn, those we call human, were Aegwyn’s final creation. She gave to them the gift of Life and free will, making them curious and ambitious beyond that of the other races, then spent her final days on Faeregoth showing them how to survive in the world before at last she departed from the Faeregoth as well.
Thus ended the Second Age, known for the War of the Gods.
-From the Historical Writings of Oldeth Dawnsinger, Scribe of Eldoth